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Tier Levels Explained

Loyalty can mean more than points if you know what to look for

If you travel regularly, it makes sense to join the loyalty programs of the airline with which the majority of your flights take place. Most major carriers are part of one of the three airline alliances – Oneworld, Skyteam or Star Alliance.

There is no best alliance, but one of them will almost certainly suit you more than another because of your location and the destinations you regularly visit, or the airlines you regularly use. Bear in mind that there are also associated financial products for alliances, meaning you can accrue additional benefits using a credit card allied with one of them.

As you rise through the tiers of your airline program, you will also be progressing through the tiers of that alliance, giving you benefits across member airlines including earning and burning miles and lounge access. Here’s a guide to the benefits available.


Number of airlines: 28Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Avianca Brasil, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines, UnitedNumber of lounges: more than 1,000


Number of airlines: 19Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, MEA, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, Xiamen AirNumber of lounges: approx 750


Number of airlines: 13American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, plus Fiji Airways (Oneworld Connect partner and so different rules may apply), Royal Air Maroc (future member, expected mid-2020)Number of lounges: approx 650